By Jude Atupulazi
The Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, has cleared the air on the video on social media purportedly showing Anambra Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, speaking on compensation for victims of herders’/farmers’ conflict.
Speaking to Fides last Tuesday in Awka, Alhaji Gidado Siddiki, Chairman, MACBAN, South East, described the video as the handiwork of mischievous people intent on creating bad blood between the people of the Southeast and cattle herders.
He said that after carefully following the trend in the dissemination of the falsehood, he had reached the conclusion that either those masterminding the misinformation were ignorant of the history and context of the speech, or that they were deliberately being mischievous, pursuant to their intent to foster hate amongst the people so as to unduly heat up the largely calm sociopolitical environment of Anambra State.
Siddiki said that in the video in reference, the governor said that if perchance a herder killed a farmer, he would be compelled to pay the deceased’s family the sum of N500, 000, with the same penalty awaiting a farmer that killed a herder.
‘And the governor emphasized that the payment of compensation does not and will not stop the police from fully carrying their investigations and prosecuting offenders.
‘There is a proviso to this, which is that whenever a herder allows his cattle to destroy farm products, he is made to pay the value of the goods damaged to the farmer, while farmers are made to pay for any number of cows they kill in taking the law into their hands,’ Siddiki explained.
He noted that the arrangement was reached as a way of stemming the wild spread of willful damages to farms and cattle and the attendant wanton bloodletting.
‘Gov Obiano’s decision came after his consultations with the Cattle Menace Committee involving farmers, herders, and prominent Anambra people, mostly those indigenous to the localities where herders are found in reasonable numbers.
‘Gov Obiano took this position as a deterrent to unruly acts amongst farmers and herdsmen.
And believe you me, apart from the gains of our peace advocacy, the injunction has drastically reduced erstwhile shows of rascality on both sides and Anambra State is the better for it; for while bloody conflicts between herders and farmers in other parts of the country are regular occurrences, Anambra enjoys the reputation of a peaceful habitation,’ the MACBAN boss stated.
He observed however that the manner in which the video spread, confirmed the need to keep some security details safely away from the public to prevent those he described as loose mischief mongers from hurting the sensibilities of the capricious and gullible.
In Siddiki’d words, ‘I want to correct an impression, however. Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders’ Association of Nigeria, MACBAN, which I serve as the South East Zonal chairman, does not have any Special Assistant or any post thereabout in the employment of Anambra State Government. Our herders enjoy the representation of the Arewa Community by a northerner fairly engaged by the State Government. MACBAN’s interventions are more through the platform of the Cattle Menace Committee, and more through our orientation and reorientation of herders in the jungles of the state.
‘I say without contradiction that MACBAN has no problem with the Government and people of Anambra State at large. I make bold to say that Anambra has provided us a reasonable ground for us to ply our trade profitably. We cannot therefore fail to be compliant with the rules and ethics of fair engagement.’
Thanking the government and people of Anambra State, Siddiki pleaded for restraint and peaceful co-existence, noting that they were important in building a one, indivisible nation.